Deer Feeders

Deer Feeders 101 | Deer Feeding Tips, Concerns, and Strategies

Tips, Concerns, Results, and Strategies
Deer Feeders 101

Deer feeders create an interest for deer hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and animal lovers alike. Whether it’s simply a wildlife feeder in the back yard, in the wood lot next door, or a vital piece of your deer management plan, chances are you will encounter the want/need to own a deer feeder at some point or another. Surprisingly, deer feeders come in a variety of sizes, designs, and uses. From the general wildlife feeder to a critical supplemental feeding program, deer feeders can certainly pull their weight no matter the use. Given such use, it’s respectable to put together a string of helpful information, tips, strategies, and uses. Welcome to deer feeders 101.

Deer Feeder: A tool used to supply feed, usually in the form of grain (corn) or a specially blended deer/wildlife feed for nutrition, to deer or wildlife in supplemental feed programs.

Why Feed Deer?

More often than not a deer feeder’s use occurs on the most basic level you can imagine. Simple and consistent corn feeding throughout the winter months appears to “help” deer and other wildlife through cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. In fact, feeding deer in the winter is a big concern for deer, deer managers, and many states. This is why it is included front and center in this article.

Intervention in the form of a couple hundred pounds of “deer corn” can spell disaster for deer.  This is why states all across the northern stretches of the country restrict or outlaw the use of bait and feeding of deer. Some of this concern undoubtedly stems from the possible negative outcomes of gathering large numbers of deer in one place…diseases being the concern. Have you heard of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)? That’s one of the big ones! However, another more likely concern that often goes unknown to the person supplying the feed is called acidosis. Acidosis occurs when ruminants (deer) consume large quantities of carbohydrates that are low in fiber, also known as corn toxicity. A deer’s diet during the winter consists of high fiber woody browse, not low fiber carbohydrates. With a sudden intake of grain, an increase and change in the microbial population in the rumen causes a fatal increase of lactic acid. Dehydration as a result of the buildup of lactic acid can be fatal in 24-72 hours.

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Photo: New Hampshire Fish and Game. Five of the twelve deer found dead due to winter feeding in N.H.

However, concern over acidosis is waved throughout the Midwest and in areas where deer are already consuming corn. The corn maze of states in the Midwest such as Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa have so much corn readily available (either standing or left behind from the combine) during the winter months that the deer’s rumen and microbial population is adjusted for feeding. This also is true for properties and programs where supplemental feed is already taking place.

The well-being of the wildlife and deer should always be taken into consideration first before your wants and needs of either supplementing nutrition or for simply observational purposes.

The Results of Supplemental Feeding

For the more advanced deer managers and deer hunters, supplemental feeding always looms in the back of the mind. The number one reason for interest in supplemental feeding is always centered around the obsession of antlers…at least for the most part. It is widely known now that age, nutrition, and genetics (in that order) are the important factors that determine antlers and a buck’s score. Age and nutrition in particular are what we as deer managers can actively manage. Age is simply managing your trigger finger and the ability to age deer on the hoof accurately, leaving nutrition as a 365 day a year obsession.

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Habitat, food plots, and supplemental feeding are all management efforts we as deer managers can continually improve it seems. For the point of this article we will focus on supplemental feeding.

The big question is “can a supplemental feeding program increase the size and score of the bucks on my property?”. The answer is yes it can. If you ask the question you can be sure a deer biologist or two have as well, and they have found the answers through research.

“A study in Texas found that bucks fed a 16% crude protein diet grew antlers that scored 20 inches higher Boone and Crockett, than did bucks fed 8% crude protein (Hamel et al. 1989)” – MSU Deer Lab.

Deer Feed Requirements

16% crude protein is the agreed upon percentage of protein intake that maximizes antler growth, however, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Often time feed containing 18-20% protein can help balance protein intake that is significantly lower in the other portions of the deer’s diet, when natural browse and protein levels of food plots/crops might dip below 16%. It also important to note that the protein requirements of deer depend on age. Mature adults do not need the higher protein requirements that fawns or young bucks need when developing. MSU Deer Lab.

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Other than protein, minerals are also a thought pertaining to deer feed. In general, macro-minerals and micro-minerals are fulfilled by vegetation or eating the soil in natural licks. However, when it comes to deer management, it is always best to be safe. Identifying limiting factors of a property such as cover, water, or food is easy. When it comes to minerals a generally safe approach is ensuring the deer feed of choice contains the basics. These are mainly calcium and phosphorous.

Deer Feeder Advantages and Design

Knowing that a supplemental feeding program supplies benefits to the herd, and knowing what deer feed should consist of, the focus can now be turned to the feeder itself. A deer feeder offers several advantages over simply placing feed on the ground. Why? By knowing what goes into deer feeder designs, you discover their advantages. Access to feed and protection of feed are the most obvious advantages. The original thought towards a feeding program is usually brought on by a hard winter, or by the need to create an attraction for your trail camera/hunting site. The next thought is in the process you are currently in…research! You are trying to find out exactly what deer feed to use, if supplemental feeding programs work, or you are looking for deer feeder designs. That last one…deer feeder designs is because you are thinking of building your own. Why not, right? Seeing as how this is deer feeders 101, we have arrived at the same conclusion…sure, why not? Here is what makes a great deer feeder design…or a checklist if you will, to what a feeder needs in order to be successful.

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  • Waterproof – Nothing is worse than soggy, spoiled, and molded feed.
  • Locking Lid – A locking lid gives you the satisfaction that the feed is not only waterproof but its safe from nuaisance animals.
  • Durable – it has to survive rough weather and some of the biggest raccoons that appear more bear-like than a raccoon.
  • Dispenser – A deer feeder needs a dispenser of some sort. This comes in the form of a port, a broadcaster (spinner), or a port/agitator.
  • Large Quantities – Feeders with large quantities equate to less time filling. This is less time on your part but also less pressure associated with the feeder.




Sure you can build one or go ahead and come the conclusion that buying a sturdy feeder will last longer and will inevitably be more successful. We offer a 200lb Gravity Feeder, and by design, it features everything it needs…simplified to be a very successful deer feeder.


Muddy 200 LB. Gravity Feeder | Muddy Outdoors Product

(Video) MGF200 Gravity Feeder is unlike any gravity deer feeder on the market. It features an adjustable spring-loaded dispenser and agitator. This feature keeps the feed broke up and dispensing while animals feed. The feed is lockable, and the lid is user friendly but cannot slide off like other feeders. If you are looking for a new gravity deer feeder, check out Muddy Outdoors.

Feeders | Muddy Outdoors Hunting Accessories


PRODUCT FEATURES

  • Waterproof
  • Locking Lid
  • Spring-Loaded Dispenser and Agitator
  • Dispenser Easily Adjusts

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Steel
  • HEIGHT: 61” Fill Height, 42” Feed Height
  • CAPACITY: 200 Lbs./ 33 Gallons;
  • WEIGHT: 44 Lbs




Deer Feeder Strategies and Tips

If applicable, and if legal, these tips can be taken into consideration to either spike the efficiency of the feeder or the scenario of hunting over the feeder. Either way, these feeding tips excel the situation beyond a feeder sitting in a field! The diagram below helps paint the scene for your imagination.

 Deer Feeder Placement

Obviously, if you are in the research phase of either building or buying a deer feeder chances are you have a spot already picked out on your hunting property. What makes a “good spot” for a feeder? To start, high traffic areas are a must. However, you also have to factor in accessibility of a truck, ATV, or side-by-side that can reach the feeder. It is also important to think about what else should be paired with a feeder such as water, other food sources, security, proximity to bedding, and in states where it’s legal, your stand or blind. Another critical thought should be thrown in concerning human pressure. If the feeder is out in the open such as a large crop field or can be seen by someone driving on a road the anxiety of deer at the feeder will be high (not to mention potential poaching or theft problems). Keeping the feeder back in secluded, low anxiety areas can increase feeding and feeder success. Considering these factors can get a bit overwhelming so here is a list in order of how you should think about deer feeder placement.

  1. High traffic area
  2. Accessible via truck/ATV
  3. Human pressure/seclusion
  4. Ask yourself the question: “Does it work with my hunting strategy?”
  5. Proximity to other food sources
  6. Proximity to water
  7. Proximity to bedding

 

 

The diagram above is a common, or a slightly above average Midwest hunting property (the terrain and amount of timber is a blessing). As you can see, feeder site #1 utilizes all of the checklists and even goes above and beyond by integrating a bit of hunting strategy. Water, food sources, a plot screen, bedding areas, and access are all present allowing the site to be optimized for deer usage and traffic. You will also notice another feeder site…this is where hunting strategy really takes off.

Deer Feeders and Hunting Strategies

Even if your state does not allow hunting over bait you can still create the attraction and central hubs for deer socialization. These usually take the form of food plots and crop fields, but by adding other factors like water, feeders, scrapes, and minerals you can create an even more popular destination that imprints in the mind of the deer herd. This impression stays with a deer even well after the bait is removed. Hunting strategy in relation to deer feeders should focus on this aspect, again regardless of whether or not bait is legal to hunt over or not.

From the diagram, you can see two feeder/bait sites. By creating two “social hotspots” pivoting on food sources you can create hunting opportunities for two scenarios. The wind dictates hunting…period. Bow hunters live and die by this simple observation and strategy. By installing and running two feeder sites, one for north winds and one for south winds, you create hunting opportunities regardless of the prevailing wind. This reiterates the fact that there is much to think about before a deer feeder is placed and filled!

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Deer Feeder Site Necessities

What is the ideal set up for a feeder site? Think about the obvious needs. With deer coming in continuously the feeder makes the ideal site for trail cameras. Beyond cameras, it also is an ideal site to create the idea of “social hotspots”. Mineral blocks and scrapes are also items that can add to the attraction and usage of the feeder sites. When it comes to trail camera usage check out the blog below on Trail Camera Tips. It gives insight into the setup, settings, and tips for each scenario such as a camera over feed.

A couple more tips for feeding deer out of a feeder include two tips that can greatly help the success you achieve with a site. When filling/re-filling feeders, spread a bit of feed around the feeder…especially when you are introducing a feeder for the first time on a hunting property. Also be cautious of the scent, not for pressure but for nuisance animals. Take hand sanitizer or a field spray with you to spray your hands before going from the feeder to your trail camera. Feed scent on a trail camera could create enough interest for a raccoon to destroy the camera in search of more food!

Conclusion

Is a supplemental feed program beneficial for your deer and hunting? Yes. Can a deer feeder integrate and enhance your hunting strategy? Yes. Should you use a deer feeder on your hunting property? It depends… If you have the need or want for more attraction, can keep up with the demands of running a feeder, and have checked your state’s regulations on feeding deer then the answer is yes! Keep an eye out for more content on deer feeders and hunting strategy on the Get Muddy Blog.

Was this article on deer feeders 101 helpful? Leave a reply! Whether it’s a simple question or comment we would appreciate the feedback!

Shed Hunting

Using Trail Cameras to Figure Out When to Start Shed Hunting

Increasing Your Odds at Shed Hunting with Trail Cameras

Deer hunting season has ended but another season is just starting. This season has tremendous interest right now, making it a sport all of its own. We are talking about shed hunting and its season is starting right now.

 

Whitetail deer sheds command huge paydays for those that find large and unique racks and are willing to part with them. More so, shed hunting has moved from a hobby, or an accidental encounter to the weekend hunter, to a necessity as more landowners take deer management seriously on their properties. Sheds also make for a nice trophy on the wall of that buck you have chased all season and expended time and resources for, even if you were unable to harvest him. Sheds also provide a record of what bucks have made it through and some information on what this season may potentially yield.

 

The Biology behind Antler Shedding

 

To understand antler shedding, we have to start with some groundwork on what buck antlers are. Antlers are composed of bone-like tissue that starts developing in early spring. The growth phase of antler development, which goes from early summer until fall, is where a buck’s antlers are covered in a soft membrane referred to as velvet. This velvet is a layer of nutrient rich blood vessels that supplies the resources needed to build the antler mass. The nutrients, such as amino acids, minerals, proteins and others, are what many hunters and landowners try to supplement throughout the summer to promote this growth and thus yield bigger antlers.

 

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Antlers will growth rapidly for two to four months. As fall approaches, due to photoperiods, the levels of testosterone start to increase. The increase in testosterone constricts the blood vessels around the antlers and eventually causes it to die. Remaining velvet falls off or more typically is rubbed off as a buck begins to prepare for the rut. What are left are the hardened antlers we are so interested in during deer season. Antlers stay with a buck until about the middle of winter then they drop off. This antler growth process is repeated each year for the buck’s entire life.

 

The antler shedding (casting) part of this cycle brings us to the biology behind shedding. The process, both the growth and casting of antlers, is controlled by photoperiods and testosterone. However, there are many factors that lead to either early antler drop or late drop such as injury and social stress. Often times these factors do not hold a significant role, which is why the shedding process happens generally the same time of year each year. The main for this again is the amount of light, or photoperiod, available at a given point in the year. During antler growth, testosterone levels rise (antler growth) towards a peak (loss of velvet) and eventually decline into as winter sets in, which signals the physiological response of antler shedding. To complete the cycle, daylight starts to increase as spring and early summer arrives and bucks begin their new antler growth.

 

When Do Deer Shed Their Antlers?

 

Traditionally, shed hunting season starts in February and wraps up around the end of March. Certainly, sheds can be found throughout the year and usually can be picked up during spring gobbler season if the rodents have not consumed them all yet. However, the main focus of shed hunting is in these two months.

 

While testosterone is the main factor controlling antler drop, there are several factors that can have an impact on how these testosterone levels can change. The stress put on a buck from environmental conditions such as extreme winter weather and also contributing factors like poor nutrition or injury can all lead to lower levels of testosterone and accordingly expedite the timing of when bucks shed antlers.

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Bucks that shed their antlers earlier than February are typically more mature, dominant bucks. These bucks are apt to shed early because their dominance gets them more involved in the rut earlier and for a longer period of time than younger, less mature bucks. Due to this, they can be left depleted after the rut and stressed to a point where antler loss happens earlier than other bucks in a region.

 

Conversely, late antler drop can be influenced by several different causes. First, unbalanced deer populations can create an atmosphere where some does do not get bred during the peak of the rut. In these highly skewed deer populations, does are being bred during the second rut and beyond. Bucks hold their testosterone levels up in these areas, which leads to them delaying the shedding of their antlers until late March or April. Second, first-year fawns that reach breeding weight their first winter will come into estrous. This usually happens well after the peak rut and is the main driver of the second rut in many places. Again, situations like these will keep bucks high in testosterone longer, delaying the shedding process. Finally, high levels of competition for does can cause late antler shedding. Mature bucks that have to spare more frequently to breed does produce more testosterone, which results in a later loss of antlers.

 

Reasons to be Shed Hunting This Year

 

Besides the fact that finding sheds can be profitable if you are good at it, there are other reasons to be shed hunting this year. First, finding shed antlers can give you some information about the buck that carried them. The most obvious fact is that he is still alive. Sure, a buck that shed those antlers may still have a misfortune in the coming months but making it past hunting season is the biggest challenge. Aside from car collisions and a disease outbreak, the odds are pretty good whatever buck left those antlers will be around come next season.

In contrast, dropped antlers do not always connect to that buck living in the area. Finding a shed clearly shows that a buck has passed through here but depending on food availability, weather conditions and other factors, he may or may not be a resident buck. In areas with high-quality forage and lots of it, bucks stick around. The opposite is true when harsh winters reduce food sources and poor habitats that make bucks more transient. This is where post season scouting for deer is important. Finding a shed can help you focus post season scouting on potential hunting spots for next year.

 

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Second, spending time shed hunting is important for deer management on a property. Those that shed hunt religiously can start to put together the growth trajectory of individual bucks. Finding the same buck’s sheds year after year can piece together what he may look like this coming year. Growth rates will vary each year but by scoring an antler shed, even just one side, and comparing that score to last year’s shed of the same buck can give you an average growth rate. This is an advantage in compiling, albeit early, a hit list for the upcoming season.

 

The Big Question | When to Start Shed Hunting on Your Property?

 

Since we are on the precipice of shed hunting 2017, when can you be sure it is time to venture out and look for sheds on your property? The best way to decide when to go shed hunting is to use trail cameras.

 

Trail cameras provide a means to monitor the timing of antler drop in your area. You can use cameras to pinpoint when most of the bucks have dropped their horns. Also, trail cameras can track a specific buck to find that white gold set that eluded you during hunting season. With trail cameras, you can scout an entire property and even multiple properties quickly and determine when to go shed hunting makes sense.

 

Shed hunting success is all about coverage. The more miles you put on the ground the greatest chance you will stumble across shed antlers. Trail cameras, however, can save you valuable time. When to shed hunt should be based on when the majority of bucks have started dropping. Use your cameras to identify when about 50% of bucks have lost their horns. Your odds of finding sheds will be much greater when you know most bucks have lost their horns.

 

Post Season Trail Camera Surveys vs. Shed Hunting Scouting

 

Similar to why you should be shed hunting, post season trail camera surveys are a way to find out what is the overall status of the deer herd in your area. The most efficient way to accomplish this is by running a trail camera survey.

 

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A post season trail camera survey provides more valuable information than summer trail camera surveys. Results with surveys this time of year can be used for determining population estimates, age structure, sex ratios and herd health after the hunting season. All of which drive what management actions are needed this year.

 

The differences between a post season trail camera survey and using trail cameras for shed hunting are how the cameras are setup.

 

Post Season Trail Camera Survey Setup

 

  • 1 trail camera per 100 acres. Ideal but use your best judgment based on topography and how you have observed deer movements in the past.
  • 1 photo burst with a 5-minute The most important setting when conducting a trail camera survey.
  • Run the survey for approximately 3 weeks before pulling the cameras and proceeding with the analysis. 1 pre-bait week, and 2 weeks of actual data, making sure bait is present at the site during the whole 3 week period.

 

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Trail Camera Setup for Shed Hunting

 

  • Scatter trail cameras in the best places for finding sheds like food sources and bedding areas. Often trail camera density goes over 1/100 acres. This is in order to get more encounters and pictures over the entire property
  • Use a 3-8 photo burst or video setting on your Muddy Pro-Cam 12 to narrow down which bucks are shedding and to identify bucks vs. does once shed.
  • Run survey until the last buck has shed and check trail cameras every few days to determine when to go shed hunting.

 

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Best Places to Hang Trail Cameras for Shed Hunting

 

Positioning trail cameras for shed hunting is very much related to where you would place tree stands for late season hunting. This time of year bucks have reduced their core area with a focus on three main aspects; food, cover and security. Knowing this can narrow down two main areas to concentrate your trail cameras for shed hunting.

 

Food sources are key areas for deer in winter and one of the best places to shed hunt. Even though bucks are moving less and relying on fat reserves, they still seek out places that have late season forage. Food sources like standing corn, beans and winter food plots will all be attracting deer. Deploy trail cameras on main deer trails coming to these spots to capture bucks as they shed their antlers. If there are no remaining agricultural food sources, do not give up. The main part of a deer’s diet in winter is woody browse. Use deer sign like tracks and scat to pick out these areas as potential spots for trail cameras and ultimately shed hunting.

 

The trails leading to food sources are likely coming from bedding areas. If you are trying to determine where to find sheds, start with bedding areas. Bedding areas are providing cover and security in winter. Bucks will spend most of their day in these areas. Southern slopes with thermal cover and easy access to food sources outlined above are perfect locations to place trail cameras and hunting for sheds.

 

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Putting It All Together

 

There are numerous shed hunting tips out there but it really comes down to dedicating yourself to shed hunting. It is a combination of an art and a science. The art is taking your time, covering ground and being able to pick out even the slightest protruding part of an antler on the ground. Where the science comes in is using trail cameras to time the shed hunting season and to isolate the most likely places bucks are hanging out in winter. Combining these two will put more antlers in your pack and support your management decisions this season.

 

When do whitetail deer shed antlers? It is happening right now! There are some people out there that are naturals at shed hunting. If you are like most, however, you need some help when it comes to shed hunting season. It is ok to hike through the woods in the hope that you will find sheds, but a better approach is to have a plan. Using trail cameras to identify when to start shed hunting and areas that bucks are frequenting will vastly improve your odds when it comes to searching for white gold.

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors

How To: Deer Hunting Cold Fronts in October

Deer Hunting Cold Fronts

Have you got the rhythm down yet? Are you back in the saddle so to speak?  When it comes to bow hunting it feels like it can take a week or two to finally get used to waking up earlier, master walking quietly across parched leaves, and perfect the art of patience, little movement, and silence. Bow season is here and whether you are ready or not does not concern the deer and more importantly the fleeting month of October. Deer hunting during October is short lived as is, and more often than not, several opportunities go without recognition and “seizing”. The worst of these missed opportunities takes the form of deer hunting cold fronts during October.

Digging deeper, many hunters will come to realize that it is the rapidly changing behavior of deer…not time itself that lets us perceive October as short. During the first part of the month or so, patterns exist, food sources are still intact, and there appears to be a very real opening to harvest a buck. However once the second and third week of October arrive everything changes. The shifting weather, food, hormones, landscape, and much more create a list of factors that seem to alter everything we knew about our property and the deer going into October. The second and third week of October (October 10th – 24th) seems to throw hunters a curve ball.

Acorns, Ag fields harvested, cooler weather, varying attractiveness of food plots, intolerance due to heightened testosterone, and of course the pressure of the approaching rut seem to mix up deer behavior so badly that they themselves do not understand what’s going on….let alone us hunters trying to figure it all out. If someone figured out exactly how to hunt October, you would know the absolute authority on the subject, but no one will ever be able to figure it out entirely. Why? You cannot control Mother Nature…

What Is a Cold Front?

By definition (to a hunter) a Cold Front is Mother Nature’s answer to the hunter’s mercy plead. Curve ball after curve ball, Mother Nature has taken us through the ringer no doubt, but it’s nice when she answers our prayers. A Cold front is a hunter’s saving grace so to speak. When deer movement seems to be slowing down, or unpredictable a cold front is a sudden snap to get deer and more importantly mature bucks on their feet.

A Cold Front – advancing mass of cold air trailing the edge of a warm sector of a low-pressure system.

When should you hunt a cold front?

A great source for hunters as far as weather patterns and cold fronts is Weather Underground. Customize the 10 day weather forecast to show temperature, the chance of precipitation, pressure, wind speed, and humidity can also be an advantage. Hunters are by no means meteorologists, but knowing the simplest things can make a huge difference to the action you witness in the woods.

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors

https://www.wunderground.com

In the picture, you can clearly see when the cold front is advancing. This graph was exported from a state in the Midwest this year, 2016, last week in fact from the date this blog is posted. From the period of Tuesday the 4th to Friday the 7th you can see a period of high temperature hovering around 80 degrees or so. Friday afternoon marks the entrance and arrival of the front. When the front is passing is typically seen as a drop in temperature > 5-10 degrees, and an increase in pressure. You will also either see nasty weather or precipitation increase as the front passes. The amount of temperature drop isn’t necessarily the main take away or reason a cold front is so productive.

Notice the days before the cold front arrives. You have hunted these days before…the same boring, long, and hot days that are common in October. Low 80s High 70s during the day for several days in a row, plus the combination of nasty weather as the front arrives signifies how “productive” the cold front will be. Deer movement will be slow or what you will normally experience during the days beforehand. During the nasty spell of weather, deer will undergo intense stress. When the skies break open (Saturday-Sunday), pressure increases, and temperature plummets deer will be excited to get on their feet, especially to feed on available food sources.

That covers when you should be deer hunting cold fronts, but not “where”. Unfortunately, the “where” is a bit trickier than the “when” and subject to a lot more opinion and variability.

Deer Hunting Cold Fronts: The Big Question is Where

So up to this point we have told you “when” you might fake a sudden cough or take a vacation day off work, but the next important thing to decide is “where”. Where should you go “all in” on what seems to be your only and best chance at a buck in October. While we cannot give you a definitive answer that is a sure fire tree stand location, we can offer plenty of well thought out and proven suggestions.

While October is leading up to highly anticipated action-packed weeks in November, the majority of the month’s deer activity revolves around one thing…FOOD. Two big food sources are competing during this time frame and a third is thrown into the mix if it is available. Above all acorns and cut corn fields should be on the hunter’s radar, but food plots can also be thrown into the mix.

Acorns

Trail Cameras Weekly “Week 2” Oct 10th- 16th | October Cold Fronts and Acorns
(Video)- As the second week of October arrives, strategies must change accordingly. In this week, two major players are present, acorns and October cold fronts.

 

Acorns are a staple for deer during the month of October. White oak and red oak acorns rain down from mature timber canopies across the Whitetail’s range, offering a continuous and reliable food source. Unfortunately, it is also a plentiful food source…meaning the little package of carbs that is known as the acorn can spell disaster for hunters. This abundant food source’s availability means that deer do not have to work very hard or move very far to get to a food source. When deer are on acorns, it can be very hard to pattern them, but with the help of some landscape features like fingers, saddles, ridges, funnels, creek bottoms, and transition areas it can be done. Muddy TV’s Trail Cameras Weekly touches on these features and how acorns, with the addition of a cold front, could mean success.

Cut Corn Fields

Whitetail 101 S1 E8, “October Cold Fronts” | Best Way to Hunt October Cold Fronts
(Video)- On this week’s episode of Whitetail 101, Bill Winke discusses October bow hunting tactics, food sources, and October cold fronts.

 

Cut corn fields, a common site this time of year is one of the only food sources that can pull deer off of acorns. As Bill Winke mentions in the video from Muddy TV’s Whitetail 101, freshly cut corn field offers “easy pickings” as far as deer are concerned. The missed kernels and mangled ears of corn can leave a significant amount of food left scattered across the tangle of stalks. The combine leaving the field is a dinner bell for deer and has the power to bring brutes out of the timber for a quick buffet. Again a cold front moving through, with some nasty weather in the forecast may just prompt a farmer for a quick harvest, meaning you will have a cut corn field to hunt over while deer hunting cold fronts, both bumping deer to their feet to feed.

Green Food Plots

Trophy Pursuit S6 E6, “Close Calls” | Close Encounters with Mature Iowa Bucks
(Video)- This week on Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit, several team members have great encounters, close calls, and trail camera photos of mature Iowa bucks.

As always a well-planted food plot, with the right species, in the right location can always be a dynamite spot to sit when deer are on their feet. As you can see in Trophy Pursuits Episode 6, the team encounter several hit list bucks moving through, around, and to food plots. Clovers, brassicas, and species like oats can attract deer throughout October and even through November and later. This is especially true for years with low acorn production, or in areas with little mature timber and ag crops. Food plots such as the ones you witness in this episode work great as staging areas and transition plots as deer begin to filter out into larger areas such as cut corn fields or oak flats.

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy OutdoorsTrail Cameras Will Tell You Where

Overall the secret to perfecting deer hunting cold fronts and bow hunting in general in October is relying heavily upon your trail camera data. As you noticed in all the weekly deer hunting videos and web shows on Muddy TV  this week (Trail Cameras Weekly, Whitetail 101, and Trophy Pursuit), they all relayed intel and information from their trail cameras to support their observations and predictions.

Take the advice and do yourself a favor. Setup trail cameras based on the available food sources. Await an October cold front, and base your hunt around the most recent information you have….you won’t regret it.

Mock scrapes and trail cameras | Muddy Outdoors

Mock Scrapes | How to Take Full Advantage of a Buck’s Weakness

Taking Advantage of Mock Scrapes With Trail Cameras

Deer season has arrived and with it the unmistakable frustration of not seeing deer during the first weeks of October. No, we are not talking about you only not seeing deer in the stand, but nearly everywhere, including on your trail cameras. This frustration comes at a high price as you will waste the first weeks of deer season playing a game of cat and mouse with of course no claws or teeth to catch the mouse…sounds frustrating right? It is without the proper guidance! The reason for this frustration is the loop many hunters (you included) get thrown into just before the season starts and it all starts with your trail cameras. Luckily mock scrapes are the answer to the problem that you have yet to realize or seek a solution for.

Trail Cameras Weekly | Week 1: Mock Scrapes
(Video)- Mock scrapes can be the solution to a problem hunters face this time of year. Bait sites need to be taken down, so hunters are looking for a good location to hang their trail cameras in order to gather intel about bucks. This is usually in the form of food plots or mock scrapes as both supplies attraction in order to draw the deer in front of the camera. For how to make a mock scrape, I simply find a good location where deer and more importantly bucks frequent, find a good sturdy licking branch 4-5 ft high, snap it off, clear out the ground with a stick about 2 ft wide, and put scent in the form of mock scrape starter on the ground.

 

The Problem

Here is the issue at hand, lack of intel driven with attraction. All summer long you have relied heavily on trail cameras, baits sites, and scouting crop fields to tell you what bucks you have and where they reside on your property. As the summer has recently progressed into fall and into deer season, bait sites needed to be removed and bean fields were drying up. You were left begging the question “how do I find my bucks now?”

Mock scrapes and trail cameras | Muddy Outdoors

Luckily sources of help and quality information are available on channels like Muddy TV. Bill Winke of Midwest Whitetail and the weekly web show “Whitetail 101” dives into this subject continuously throughout October. Bill is an expert at “finding bucks back again” after they have moved home ranges and adjusted on different food sources. The secret to Bill’s success is putting trail cameras in the right locations, with the right attraction, and the right settings. This will become your success point as well after reading through this article.

The Solution

Again the problem isn’t necessarily the changing times, it’s the behavioral changes in whitetails in addition to the legal ramifications (in some states) of having bait out on the property around your stands. This is an issue because it is in the best interest for you to have some sort of attraction in front of your trail camera to snap pictures of bucks and gain valuable intel. With bait or any “edible” attraction out of the question, we are left with one thing…scent.

The Weakness

During the early season and pre-rut, bucks have one weakness that can be taken advantage of. Their inquisition. Whitetails are curious creatures, they are also social and creatures of habit making this weakness even more deadly. Communicating and learning about other deer and the status of those deer continually throughout October and November takes place at a scrape. Bucks and does alike will visit scrapes throughout the season presenting two opportunities.

By creating mock scrapes the two opportunities can be fully extorted. The first opportunity is mock scrapes create the attraction needed to draw deer in front of your trail cameras. The second arrives once a buck has been located and somewhat patterned, as these mock scrapes suggest tree stand locations.

How to Make a Mock Scrape

Follow these simple steps to make an attractive and useful mock scrape.

  • Step 1: Find high traffic area located in the right seasonal location (around acorns, in a food plot, by crops)
  • Step 2: Find a tree with a good branch, or hang a branch in the location that is within shooting range of a potential tree stand site.
  • Step 3: Create or bend down a licking branch 4-5 feet high. Break the tip off just like a buck does when making or checking a scrape.
  • Step 4: Take a stick and clear out a 2ft circle under the licking branch.
  • Step 5: Apply mock scrape starter to the dirt or use human urine. Do not put urine on the licking branch, only apply forehead gland or preorbital gland scent products to the licking branch.
  • Step 6: Hang a trail camera over the location

Mock scrapes and trail cameras | Muddy Outdoors

Hanging Trail Cameras Over Mock Scrapes

Follow these simple steps to hang trail cameras correctly over mock scrapes.

  • Step 1: Find a tree opposite the mock scrape’s face. Do not put trail camera close or right on top of mock scrape as it could put unwanted scent and be seen by the bucks.
  • Step 2: Place trail camera around 10 yards from scrape.
  • Step 3: Set the delay to 1 minute as does and bucks will not spend a lot of time at a mock scrape sight, but instead will only pass through and investigate, or work the scrape quickly.
  • Step 4: Set the trail camera on a long video mode. For Muddy trail cameras, the 2 minute HD video is perfect for detecting bucks and watching both where they enter/exit and how they work the scrape.

This year if you are struggling to find out where to put your cameras or are struggling to capture your bucks again after summer, try using mock scrapes and trail cameras in combination. By placing mock scrapes in areas subject to deer traffic in different parts of the seasons (acorns early, green food sources later, funnels in the rut, and late season food sources) you will be able to continually attract bucks in front of your trail cameras. This will reveal valuable intel that otherwise would go unnoticed.

For other trail camera tips visit the following blog:

trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors

Trail Camera Tips and Tactics For Deer Season

Trail Camera Setup Guide | Trail Camera Tips and Tactics

Trail cameras have quickly and undoubtedly become one of the most essential tools available to hunters, period. There is no question to whether or not a hunter should employ trail camera across his/her hunting property. The significance is common sense, but the knowledge of how to set up a trail camera properly is not as well known. Without the knowledge, a hunter cannot fully extract all of the  valuable information a trail camera can give, essentially wasting the money, technology, and more importantly time…These trail camera tips and tactics should set you straight.

How to Set Up a Trail Camera

Are you asking “how do I set up a trail camera?” read and watch below for a detailed how to.

Trail Camera Tips For Deer Season | The Buck Advisors
(Video) – As deer season becomes closer and is beginning in many states, you might have started employing trail cameras on your property. If that is the case then chances are you have asked how to set up a trail camera before. Here is a step by step guide on how to set up a trail camera and some other trail camera tips

When setting up a trail camera, you have to consider many factors including trail camera location, if the trail camera will be attached to a tree or stake, the distance to the target area, clear field of view, aiming the camera in the right direction, keeping the trail camera scent free, and ensuring you select the right settings when setting it up. These trail camera tips and set up steps can be hard to remember when you are in the field so take notice now, and even create your own checklist to run through each time you set up cameras.

Step 1: Trail Camera Purpose and Purchasing

Figuring out what information you want to capture with your trail cameras is the first step in this trail camera guide, and the first step when discussing how to set up a trail camera. Are you trying to retrieve intel on the following: a food plot, scouting for turkeys, scouting for deer, over a mineral site, trail camera survey, mock scrape, trail, bait site, deer feeder or another simply for capturing photos of other wildlife? Generally, any and/or all of these should be researched further in depth for specific tactics and trail camera tips, but more vitally what camera to look into that has the requirements and can capture that specific info.

For example trying to capture wildlife or deer utilization on a food plot might require a time-lapse or field scan feature, a trail might require a fast trigger speed, and a mineral site might require a video mode or multiple photo burst mode. Purchasing an overall great trail camera that has all of these features included, is a multifaceted bang-for-your-buck…literally. A trail camera with all of the following allows you to use it every part of the year in all different scenarios.

trail camera tips pro cam 12 | Muddy Outdoors

  • 12 Megapixel
  • 2 – 8 Photo Bursts
  • 1280 x 720 HD With Sound or VGA (32 FPS) with Sound Video
  • .6 Second Trigger Speed
  • Invisible Flash with 36 HE LEDs
  • Simple to Program
  • Backlit LCD Screen to easily navigate through settings any time of day
PRODUCT SPECS
SIZE: 4.75″ H x 4.25″ W x 2.5″ D; SCREEN: Backlit LCD Screen; FLASH RANGE: 70’+; LEDS: 36; IMAGE QUALITY: 12 Megapixel; TRIGGER DELAY: 10 Options: 2.5 Sec. – 60 Min; TIME-LAPSE PERIOD: 1, 2, 3, or 4 Hours After Sunrise & Before Dusk, All Day or Custom Start/End Time; TIME-LAPSE FREQUENCY: 10 Options: 5 Sec. – 60 Min; IMAGE DATA: Camera ID, Date, Time, Temp, & Moon Phase; VIDEO: 6 Options: 5 Sec. – 2 Min Length; MOUNTING OPTIONS: Adjustable Strap with Buckle; Alternate: 1/4″ – 20; THEFT DETERRENCE: Cable Lock and Padlock Ready; BATTERY TYPE: 6 AA or 12V DC Alternate Power Option; COLOR: Non-Reflective Bark Pattern; MATERIAL: Molded ABS; Waterproof Housing; MEMORY: Requires Secure Digital Card, Up to 32GB; PRODUCT WARRANTY: 1 Year; OPERATING TEMP: -10 Degrees F to 140 Degrees F; DETECTION RANGE: 70′; FIELD OF VIEW: 3 Zone + 50 Degree Detection Angle; BURST INTERVAL: 2 Seconds or 0.6 Seconds; BATTERY LIFE: Up to 10,000 Images

Again, this is the first step, selecting a camera, and outlining exactly what intel you want to gather. After knowing these basics you can dive into actually setting up a trail camera in the field. The next step after determining what you want to use the trail camera for is selecting the trail camera location in order to capture that exact data.

Step 2: Trail Camera Location

Defining what you want to achieve with your game camera will tell you where to put it, it’s really that simple. Trail camera location is step and trail camera tip number two in this trail camera guide, and after the initial cam requirements, is the next most important consideration.

Food Plot Location: Either on a tree or a stake at a key entrance/exit point into or out of the food plot or high above the food plot for a time-lapse view.

Trail Location: At a 45 degree angle from the trail. Perpendicular or straight on from the trail can either not capture the deer or wildlife walking, and directly behind or in front of can result in spooked game or a picture that may have features like antlers covered up.

Bait/Mineral/Water/Feed Location:  The best trail camera location for a mineral, bait, water, or feeding site is position roughly 10 yards, close enough to see detail but distant enough to see everything utilizing the site.

Step 3: Trail Camera Installment

Each trail camera location that you end up installing a trail camera on will come with its own characteristics and limitations. A perfect tree will not always be available, rather it seems most of the trees you encounter are entirely too small or too large in diameter. When hanging and installing trail cameras, remember that you are not always limited to a tree or a fence post, and if you are, there are other tools other than a strap that can connect it to a tree.

trail camera tips trail camera mount | Muddy Outdoorstrail camera tips trail camera stake | Muddy Outdoors

Muddy has trail camera accessories that make it very easy to put a trail camera literally anywhere that you need. These trail camera accessories include trail camera stakes and trail camera mounts for either ground mounting or mounting on any sized tree or post. Both the Adjustable Trail Camera Support and the Dual Camera Ground Mount are important considerations when you are installing your trail camera.

Step 4: Trail Camera Field of View (FOV)

What is in the field of view for the trail camera? This is nearly as important as the consideration of how far the camera can detect and take pictures. As far as trail camera tips go, this one is often forgotten or goes unnoticed. What is in the FOV can determine a lot about the quality of intel you get. A branch, bush, tree, feeder, or another object in the FOV and frame can either set off the camera multiple times in the wind or block the image entirely. Objects can also interrupt the trail camera being able to detect wildlife, as well as catch the flash during the night.

Step 5: Trail Camera Night Photo Distance

Flash range distance during night events for trail camera should be considered when purchasing and determining the best steps in how to set up a trail camera. Step 5 in this trail camera guide is here for good reason. Often times night flash range and the ability to accurately judge what is in the photos/video during night events is often forgotten and ends in frustration of missed opportunities. A lot of wildlife, including deer, move during night-time hours, this is common knowledge, so be sure to include it when you are setting up your trail cameras.

The trail camera settings for the flash will include the sensitivity settings, high sensitivity should be used for open expansive areas such as food plots, bait, mineral, mock scrapes, watering holes, and feeding sites. Low sensitivity should be used on areas in thick areas and on trails.

Step 6: Trail Camera Direction

The sun can have a profound effect on the information you receive from your trail cameras. This is not discussing night vs. day activity or the events, rather the blinding effect the sun can have on the images themselves. Facing the camera East and West will result in white images or images that are unclear due to the sun. South is acceptable, but when setting up trail cameras always try and aim the camera north.

Step 7: Trail Camera Scent

This is especially true for deer, or just for keeping your trail camera safe from critters! Most people, when it comes to setting out trail cameras don’t think of, or simply do not care enough to worry about scent control and trail cameras. This is a big mistake. Number 7 on this trail camera guide is trail camera scent and it can be critical. Trail cameras set out for deer is one obvious reason to take consideration of the scent you leave behind.

Human scent is a form of human pressure, and too much around a trail camera station could leave that site useless for a duration that is critical for collecting information. On another front, attractive scent can attract unwanted attention and/or damage to your camera. Putting out feed, a bait, or minerals for deer or other wildlife, and not paying attention to the scent and potential attraction that is on your hands before touching the trail camera can leave your camera smelling like food. Raccoons and bears both can be fairly hard on cameras when investigating them due to the scent and attraction of food or bait.  This also gives more of a reason for ants to invade your camera.

Step 8: Trail Camera Memory Cards

trail camera tips pro cam 10 bundle | Muddy OutdoorsTrail camera memory cards are a significant consideration when learning how to set up a trail camera. Not having enough memory, and keeping the cameras out for an extended period of time could render the camera useless over time. Another consideration is also formatting the memory card to the trail camera. With today’s trail camera like the Pro Cam 12 or Pro Cam 10 offering higher and higher resolution video and ever increasing high-quality photos, the need for more space is evident.

The size of the memory card you need largely depends on the trail camera settings you choose to set, and/or how often you check the camera. A trail camera set on video mode, with a 10-30 second delay over a bait site, will burn through memory quite fast, while a 3-photo-burst at 5 min intervals on the same site takes much longer to fill the same amount of memory. When deciding on how big a memory card you might need, consider what settings you will have the camera on, how long you plan on not checking and clearing the card, and the potential frequency of events the trail camera might encounter. Overall a good trail camera tip to remember is an 8GB memory card is a safe bet for most trail camera applications. In some situations like the Pro Cam 10 Bundle’s case, a memory card Is thrown in with the purchase of the camera.

Step 9: Trail Camera Batteries

While some of the very first models of trail camera ran off of huge D batteries, most trail cameras now run off of AAs. These have more options, are more readily found, and are quite easy to set up with rechargeable batteries. These might be the best options, especially when running several trail cameras.

Cold weather has quite an effect on technology so always be sure to check your trail cameras battery life during the fall and winter months. Both Muddy Trail Cameras, the Pro-Cam 12 and the Pro-Cam 10 have operating ranges between -10 and 140 degrees.

Step 10: Trail Camera Settings

With everything else optimized the most crucial step is putting the trail camera on the right settings, this is where most hunters mess up. Overall the trail camera settings are largely based upon what intel you wish to receive. However, certain scenarios and situations require specific settings in order to work. Trail camera tips for the settings aspect cannot simply be a broad overstatement, but instead require careful consideration and planning. Generally, use common sense…write down your goals, and think out which settings will give you that.

We recognize the lack of information on trail camera settings based upon each scenario you encounter in the woods. Look out on the GoMuddy blog page for ann article specifically about trail camera settings based upon each situation.

Step 11: Trail Camera Security

The last step and trail camera tip is simple…it’s trail camera security. Lock it up or lose it. Unfortunately, there are trespassers and given an opportunity to steal a camera, some will take it.  Running a cable lock through your trail camera can easily deter this from happening.

Other Trail Camera Tips

While going through the trail camera guide and steps on hot to set up a trail camera, we mentioned several different tactics such as setting up trail cameras for turkeys, trail camera surveys, minerals for deer, and scouting velvet whitetails in the summer. The links below will take you to those blogs!

 

how to capture velvet bucks with a trail camera in spring and summer | Muddy Outdoors

Trail Camera | How To Capture Velvet Bucks In Spring and Summer

Trail Camera Tips for Capturing Velvet Bucks in Spring and Summer

Trail cameras are an incredibly piece of technology that are continuing to grow in popularity each and every year. A trail camera provides hunters the ability to literally be in more than one place at one time and can provide a suite of invaluable information that can help when the time comes to hang tree stands or set hunting blinds and put the hunter in the best possible position to intercept that big mature buck this fall. Normally trail cameras start going up in late summer to determine patterns on velvet bucks, but spring should not be overlooked. With antlers already gaining inches every week, taking inventory now is possible, you just need to know how to capture velvet bucks in spring and early summer with your trail camera.

Mineral and Trail Camera Time | Midwest Whitetail
(Video) This week Bill Winke Gets the mineral stations out, trophy rocks set, and trail cameras out in preparation to capture velvet bucks in spring and summer.

Trail cameras are very easy to use and are becoming more and more inexpensive as each year passes. With the spring months well underway, it is not too early to begin taking inventory of the whitetails on your property, begin determining locations for your deer stands and hunting blinds, and start determining what the potential is for your farm to hold a giant this fall.

Spring Whitetail Patterns

how to capture velvet bucks with a trail camera in spring and summer | Muddy Outdoors

For some reason, many whitetail deer hunters tend to make the assumption that there is no need to begin setting and running trail cameras until the late summer months of July and August. That could not be further from the truth! The trick that many successful whitetail deer hunters know is that running trail cameras is a twelve month out of the year effort that can yield some pretty amazing and extremely beneficial information that can have you eye level with a big whitetail buck this fall.

So the question that many deer hunters ask when the topic of spring and summer trail camera placement comes up is simply, “why?” Why do we need to take the time to run trail cameras during the spring months? Well, the answer to that question is really very simple, the more information that you have the better decisions you can make. Running spring time trail cameras has very little to do with gathering information on deer antlers (although you will be able to monitor the growth of the bucks on your property)and more to do with simply gathering information pertaining to overall deer numbers and travel patterns of the deer on your farm. Deer, and especially mature whitetail bucks are truly their own individuals. They tend to have subtle traits, and things that they do that are specific to them. Typically, it’s these little “ticks” that can cause them to be so hard to hunt and have allowed them to grow and become mature. Examples of these traits might be how a specific deer responds to disturbances such as farm practices or activity on the farm. Others might be specific travel routes during various times of the year that might be different from the other bucks on the area. The bottom line is, the more information you have the more informed your decisions will be, which will help you to be successful this fall.

How and Where To Place a Trail Camera This Spring and Summer

It is pretty amazing just how different a whitetail deer behaves depending upon the time of the year. As deer hunters, the spring and summer months can often be overlooked and underappreciated in terms of its importance to a whitetails life cycle. During the summer months, food requirements change to forages that are higher in proteins and other nutrients that help adult does with pregnancy and lactation as well as helping those mature bucks produce antlers for the fall. As a result, the location of your trail cameras may not necessarily be the same ole’ oak tree that you have always used during the fall months.

During the spring and early summer months, whitetail deer will tend to stay close to food in areas where they feel secure. They will tend to be more active during the over-night periods and less during the day, especially as the temperatures begin to increase. As such, you should focus your trail cameras towards heavily used travel routes. These are obviously sure fire locations to catch the deer on your property on their feet.

In addition, the spring and summer months are great times to break the edge of the tree line and begin exploring the interior wood lots on the properties your hunt. Look for areas with signs of heavy browse and forage. During the spring and summer months, mature whitetails will tend to stay within a small area for most of the day, only venturing out during the over-night hours. If you can locate a big bucks “bedroom”, that can be very useful information that can be stowed away for the fall. In many cases, large bucks will often retreat back to these areas when the pressure gets too great during the hunting season, which is something you can use to your advantage when hanging tree stands or setting hunting blinds this fall.

how to capture velvet bucks with a trail camera in spring and summer | Muddy Outdoors

As spring gives way into early summer and spring rain is sucked into the plant growth and native browse, an opportunity comes up for spring and summer trail camera placement. Mineral and/or salt stations are craved by whitetails to balance their water uptake when eating this water filled browse. Their cravings and consistent visits to the stations makes for an unbeatable opportunity to monitor antler growth and behavior characteristics as well as get an inventory of bucks throughout the year.

Running trail cameras is an exciting and fun activity that helps pass the months during the off season, and can really help make deer season last all year long. With that said it can also mean the difference between tag soup and wrapping your tag around the antler of that trophy buck this fall. If you take the time to let your trail camera work for you, and deploy them year round you just might be surprised what you can learn!